President Donald Trump over the past 18 hours or so has been pounding out tweets and making remarks to the press that are filled with lies. How is this different from any day of the week that ends in "y," you ask? Here's how.
Trump is insisting – with exactly zero evidence – that under President Barack Obama's direction, the FBI and possibly other federal agencies, embedded at least one if not more spies into his presidential campaign with the specific purpose of working to help Hillary Clinton win.
There is exactly zero evidence to support these lies. Trump doesn't even attempt to offer any, aside from "quoting" various Fox News personalities.
He also quotes former United States Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the man whose new book says Russia's efforts swayed the election to Trump. (Probably not the source you want to go to if you're Trump.)
Maddow, by the way, had Clapper on last night. Here's the run-up clip detailing his findings:
"...of course the Russian effort affected the outcome. Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Tru… https://t.co/szOopIxrgA— Maddow Blog (@Maddow Blog)1527038760.0
So, is there any truth, any scrap of truth to Trump's claims?
What is he talking about?
Reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post over the past few days that a long-time occasional FBI informant (who NCRM will not name) had a few conversations with several Trump campaign officials before the election. You'll remember the FBI opened an investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia in July of 2016, after a very drunk George Papadopoulos told an Australian official they had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, via a treasure trove of her emails, which they received from Russia.
So the FBI had their informant chat with Papadopoulos, and Carter Page, who is also tied to Russia. The informant also spoke with campaign co-chair Sam Clovis, although it's not clear that was even related to an FBI investigation. (Quartz's Max de Haldevang has a good primer on all this.)
In Trumpworld, this is "spying" on his campaign.
This isn't spying, it's protecting America. It doesn't come close to spying, and in no way is it an informant embedded in the campaign. Don't forget, the FBI was so concerned Team Trump was compromised by Russia they issued a specific warning to them during the campaign, telling them that working with a foreign power is illegal, and they must tell the FBI if they are contacted by Russia or any other foreign government.
The Trump campaign ignored that warning.
So, what's Trump been saying? Here are his latest tweets – take a look, just remember, these are lies:
...Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because… https://t.co/gJGldziTWv— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1527038026.0
@foxandfriends “New Bombshell in the Obama Spying Scandal. Did other Agencies SPY on Trump Campaign?” Even Clapper… https://t.co/6yEb63xzcE— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1527072337.0
Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up… https://t.co/DDGNcbXa85— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1527072841.0
“It’s clear that they had eyes and ears all over the Trump Campaign” Judge Andrew Napolitano— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1527073245.0
SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1527073947.0
“Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign” No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a camp… https://t.co/0OXtEFafNY— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1527075239.0
So, on that last tweet – Clapper did not say that. Trump read a bad headline from the right-leaning Real Clear Politics and repeated it, tossing quotes around it. Here's what Clapper actually did say, on "The View."
"With the informant business, well, the point here is the Russians," Clapper said. "Not spying on the campaign but what are the Russians doing? And in a sense, unfortunately, what they were trying to do is protect our political system and protect the campaign."
"They were spying on, a term I don't particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing," Clapper continued. "Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do."
"Well, why doesn't like that? He should be happy," Joy Behar asked.
"He should be," Clapper responded.
Trump is gaslighting the American people. He's lying, constantly. But those lies become facts in everyone's mind – yours and mine included – unless we wholly discredit every word he utters, every tweet he posts. And that's just too hard for most.
Which means, Trump wins.
Don't let him.